That New Congressman Smell

Posted May 6, 2008 at 6:57pm

Welcome to Congress, new guy. Most of brand-new Rep. Don Cazayoux’s (D-La.) colleagues are just trying to figure out how in the heck to pronounce his name (our Louisiana sources say it’s “caz-YOU”). But the freshest of freshmen on Tuesday got another reminder that he’s a newbie.

[IMGCAP(1)]C-SPAN misidentified Cazayoux as (the horror!) a Republican during his swearing-in ceremony.

After Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) administered the standard oath of office, Cazayoux — who in a special election pried his seat from longtime GOP clutches — stepped up to the podium to make his first speech as a genuine Member of Congress. The banner that runs below Members identifying them by party and state on C-SPAN read “R-Louisiana.” It stayed in place for a moment, then disappeared.

A C-SPAN spokesman wouldn’t comment on the mix-up.

We’re guessing it’s all part of the hazing — wait until Cazayoux gets to the Members-only gym, where Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) is no doubt waiting to give him a swirlie.

The Pretend Pundit. Sen. Susan Collins might have outgrown imaginary friends long ago, but the Maine Republican still seems to have an imaginary enemy out there. In an appearance at the GOP convention in her home state last weekend, she publicly disagreed with a political commentator — only the pundit in question is, well, fictional.

Collins noted that the commentator Wally Edge, whose byline appears on the political Web site Politicker.com, had predicted the confab of Maine Republicans that weekend could be “contentious.”

“He thinks this is contentious?” Collins asked the cheering crowd. “I guess he hasn’t been paying much attention to the Democratic presidential campaign — I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t seem like ‘Kumbaya’ to me.”

Collins was right; Edge hasn’t been paying attention, for the simple reason that he doesn’t exist. Wally Edge is a pseudonym used by the Politicker.com folks for the writers of insider-ish analysis. The real Wally Edge, aka Walter Evans Edge, was a Republican Senator from New Jersey and also served as governor of New Jersey. He died in 1956.

Collins spokeswoman Jen Burita said her boss was actually in on the joke. “She knows about Wally Edge,” Burita said.

And perhaps she’d also like to introduce us to the Gentleman from Sesame Street, Mr. Snuffleupagus?

Dept. of It Never Gets Old. As the Senate turns its attention to issues of airports, one of its experts on the topic was a no-show. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was nowhere to be found while the Senate on Tuesday failed to cut off debate on a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration.

Craig’s familiarity with airports, of course, is well-known: He was arrested last summer and charged with a misdemeanor as part of a sex sting in a men’s bathroom in the Minneapolis airport.

Craig, it turns out, was back in Idaho for the opening of a uranium-enrichment plant, says his spokeswoman, Susan Irby. She says he hated to miss a vote but thought the plant’s opening was important to his state.

Still, one Democratic strategist posited an alternate theory. “I wonder if he’s still sensitive when it comes to airport issues?” the Dem pondered.

Election Fever. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: A guy is running a presidential campaign against a more senior frontrunner who happens to be a female. She’s touting her experience, while he’s running on a platform of change — and they’re both all over YouTube.

A mini version of the national presidential race is playing out among Congressional staffers vying in a hyper-competitive race to be president of the Congressional Hispanic Staffers Association.

Javier Martinez, a professional staffer for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Melody Gonzales, a legislative assistant for Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), are turning the campaign from the usual informal state of affairs found in most staffer groups to a pretty serious endeavor. Martinez has produced a press release, a slick flier and a YouTube video to help make his case. Gonzales, who currently serves as the organization’s vice president, also has a YouTube video, a Facebook group and a brochure.

The unusually competitive election takes place May 12.

Martinez, who says he voted for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in the primaries, said his own election experience has made him identify with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). “My friends said, ‘Hey, you’re the Latino Obama,’” he tells HOH. “And I can understand how he felt as the underdog … so I just added him to my Facebook page.”

Gonzales, sounding a bit like DNC Chairman Howard Dean, says that the potentially divisive race is, in fact, only making the organization stronger. “It’s getting people energized and paying their dues,” she says.

Briefly Quoted. “Everyone else has. You might as well.”

— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on the Daily Show on Monday night, after host Jon Stewart asked if he, personally, could filibuster Reid.

Tory Newmyer contributed to this report.

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